SoundCloud Launch!

University Student Commons and Activities (USC&A) is proud to announce the launch of two podcasting series: Questions, Commons & Concerns and CommonSpeak!

Hosted by Brian Donovan, a senior music major at Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU) and marketing assistant for USC&A, the series arrive just in time for the USC&A summer campaign, 2021Fun, which includes new content every day for incoming transfer students or freshmen to inform and educate them about the happenings around town. “It’s an honor to be a part of the summer campaign! I’m happy for the opportunity to provide information, and hopefully some comedic relief, to people in the VCU community,” Donovan said.

Questions, Commons & Concerns is a series where students, faculty and staff are asked about their thoughts regarding current events, hot topics or fun subjects relevant to the VCU community.

The first episode of Questions, Commons & Concerns focuses on the return of Mike Rhoades as the twelfth head coach and Joey Rodriguez as the new director of player development for the VCU Men’s Basketball team.

During the summer campaign, Questions, Commons & Concerns will be published biweekly. Listen to the first podcast episode on our SoundCloud page:

The second podcast starting this summer is CommonSpeak, which is a series meant to discuss the events and state of VCU as a whole.

In CommonSpeak’s first episode, Donovan discusses Virginia Commonwealth University’s Student Government Association (SGA) merger and what it means for the school and its students. Donovan spoke to members of SGA and supporting staff:

LaDarius Thompson, SGA Advisor
Keith Zirkle, Vice President-elect for Graduate and Professional Students
Maria Sanchez, Vice Chair of the Appropriations Committee
Katie Clark, Outgoing President for Undergraduate Students on the Monroe Park Campus
Destinee Moragne, President-elect of the new, combined VCU SGA

CommonSpeak will be released on a select basis, as issues relevant to the VCU community arise. Listen to the first podcast episode on our SoundCloud page:

Have a topic for either CommonSpeak or Questions, Commons & Concerns? Submit topic ideas to


QCC S01E01 Transcript:

Brian Donovan: Welcome to Questions, Commons and Concerns at VCU, an initiative by University Student Commons and Activities. Questions, Commons and Concerns is a series where we ask students, faculty and staff about their thoughts regarding current events, hot topics or fun subjects relevant to the University community.

Donovan: This is Brian Donovan, host of Questions, Commons and Concerns. Today’s episode focuses on the return of Mike Rhoades as the twelfth head coach of the VCU Men’s Basketball team. Coach Rhoades served as associate head coach for the Men’s Basketball team from 2009-14. In 2011, under head coach Shaka Smart, Rhoades was a key piece in VCU’s historic run to the Final Four. With the abrupt departure of head coach Will Wade, VCU signed Rhoades as the head coach going into the 2017 basketball season. Coach Rhoades is not the only one returning from the team that made the 2011 Final Four run. Joey Rodriguez, the new Director of Player Development for the VCU Men’s Basketball team, starred as a point guard at VCU from 2007-11. After graduating, he held various coaching staff positions until the 2016-17 season where he served as Video Coordinator under Mike Rhoades at Rice University. We walked around campus to ask students, faculty, and staff their thoughts about this new coaching staff, to see if the University community consider the return of Rhoades and Rodriguez as positive, negative or neutral for VCU.

:: I think it’s a great thing to have these coaches back. Just like the new experience — I mean the experience that they’re going to bring to the basketball team is gonna be great, already knowing how VCU Basketball works.

:: I would say I think it’s really beneficial to the university and to the athletic program because they’ve been here before, they know the campus, they know how the athletic department works. And as someone — I’m on the track and field team so when you get an idea of how VCU Athletics works, you’re more inclined to be able to sell VCU Athletics to prospective student athletes. And since you’ve been through the university, you know how to… pretty much recruit the athletes we want here to make them well-rounded student athletes.

Donovan: While Mike Rhoades’ homecoming has been a talking point for many, the return of Joey Rodriguez to the team had quite a few excited as well.

:: You know, I don’t know a lot about Mike Rhoades. He seems like a top-notch guy though, especially with that blog post he did at his previous college saying thanks for all the great memories and everything so, real class act. That said, super excited about Joey Rodriguez coming back. J-Rod in the house, can’t wait. It’s gonna be awesome.

:: I like Joey Rodriguez. He’s pretty cool, I remember watching him when I was in high school and to have him come back to VCU is a pretty interesting thing. I think it will bring a really cool spirit to the team and Mike Rhoades is there also so, it’ll be a cool thing.

Donovan: Not everyone was thrilled about the the school’s quick decision to extend the offer of head coach to Mike Rhoades.

:: Well in all actuality, from my novice standpoint, I feel like Mike Rhoades coming back was a knee-jerk reaction to them losing Shaka Smart, and the other gentlemen who I can’t think of his name, back to back. So I guess they wanted to bring in someone more seasoned who they think will not go anywhere based off VCU’s winning record. Whether that works or not remains to be seen, but I feel like they should have probably expanded the search a little longer.

Donovan: Although there may be a few skeptics, others believe that the experience of Mike Rhoades and Joey Rodriguez will be enough to get us back to the Final Four.

:: If a coach took them to the finals once, then he would probably be a good coach again — and especially somebody who is experienced in basketball and was a part of a winning team, it’d be pretty dope to have them back, in my opinion.

:: I think because he has experience leading us into the Final Four that he can tap into that past experience, understand what Shaka did that was so right and then take parts of that and incorporate it into his own strategy.

Donovan: Overall, it sounds like the faculty, staff and students are happy about the return of Mike Rhoades and Joey Rodriguez. Several Rams that we talked to had a message for the incoming coaching staff.

:: I think it’s gonna be a great season. He’s a great coach, he’s got a great personality. He truly wants to be here. We love you Mike Rhoades. We’re so happy that you’re back and we’re happy to have you as a coach.

:: I love VCU Men’s Basketball so I think they’ll be great next year, love those guys.

:: Definitely was not counting on Will Wade leaving. Best of luck to him but you know, Mike Rhoads is familiar with — I heard that he went on dates to VCU Basketball games with his wife, so I think that’s super cute. Welcome home, you know?

Donovan: Welcome home indeed. This has been Questions, Commons and Concerns at VCU by University Student Commons and Activities. If you have a question you would like covered, email us at Thank you for listening.


CS S01E01 Transript:

Brian Donovan: Welcome to CommonSpeak at VCU, an initiative by University Student Commons and Activities. CommonSpeak is a series meant to discuss the events and state of the university as a whole. This is Brian Donovan, host of CommonSpeak. In today’s episode, we will be discussing the school’s Student Government Association, or SGA. In January of 2017, the majority of the student body voted in favor of a unified SGA. I spoke to LaDarius Thompson, VCU’s SGA Advisor, on what this will mean for the student body.

LaDarius Thompson: Just to give a brief summary of the merger. The merger is something that has been in the works for the past thirteen years, something that Dr. Rodriguez, our Dean of Students, started when he first arrived here. He had the vision of basically bringing the two, at that time, the two existing student government councils together, which were the Monroe Park Campus student government and the MCV student government. So basically they were recognizing that some of the same issues were coming out of both senates, but were being lost in translation because both senates were attacking them in very different ways and weren’t doing the best job at communicating with each other. So, in the meantime to help compromise that issue, Dr. Rodriguez founded the Joint Student Government council which kind of serves as that liaison that communicated between both councils and then vetted the issues up to either Dr. Rodriguez or Dr. Klink or President Rao.

Donovan: I got in touch with Keith Zirkle, chair of the Joint Student Government Council and Vice-President elect of the Graduate and Professional Students, to talk about what kinds of changes a combined SGA will bring about.
Keith Zirkle: I think the merger again is a way to change things for the better. Neither student government really had huge problems, but there are definitely things that could be improved upon, and so this was an opportunity to improve those things and again, merge them. I think it’s also… It is going to be basically a way to represent all students. Instead of the university having to go to one campus and then the other campus, this having one student government ensures that both voices are being heard.

Donovan: The student bodies on both campuses have many of the same concerns; one in particular being appropriations, otherwise known as funding requests, for student organizations.
Zirkle: I also think it’s an opportunity to optimize appropriations. I know a lot of student organizations had difficulties or frustrations with the appropriations process. I think students are going to prefer the new appropriations process.
Donovan: Student organizations have a lot to look forward to under the leadership of the new SGA. I spoke with Maria Sanchez, the vice-chair of the appropriations committee, to get an idea on how the new appropriations process is going to work.
Maria Sanchez: For next year, there’s going to be three funding periods, just to make it simpler. There’s going to be fall, there’s going to be spring and there’s a summer one, which is what we’re adding and that’s one of the newer things that we’re doing. We’ve noticed that it’s because of travel, too – like for competitions, for conferences – a lot of those are held during the summer for student organizations. Those are going to be the three funding periods and how funding will work. And this is going to start Spring 2018, the student organizations are going to apply for the semester in total. So, they’re going to apply for funding for the events they want to hold during the fall semester or during the spring semester.
Donovan: It’s not just the students who are experiencing changes. While some members of the current SGA have been re-elected into new positions next year, for others, this merger is the resolution of their time at VCU and working with the SGA. I asked Katie Clark, graduating president of the Monroe Park Campus SGA, what she wanted the students to know.
Katie Clark: Ultimately, I think that the students should really see this as it’s not us making our organization, it’s making their organization. Because, ultimately, that’s what SGA is about. And so, the reason why we all wanted one SGA was so that, you know, we have this campus over here and this campus over here, and we’re not seen as two campuses, we’re seen as VCU. And so that you’re not categorized or like put into a section and given a certain amount of attention because you’re in that section. You’re a student at VCU so you deserve equal priority.
Donovan: Katie and the other members of the current SGAs have worked closely with the newly elected officers of VCU SGA to ensure a smooth and productive transition. Destinee Moragne, president-elect of the new, combined VCU SGA, has been hard at work with both governments. Destinee gave me an overview of one of her initiatives, the “Four I’s.” (Identity, Investigate, Impact and Inform)
Destinee Moragne: The first one is “Identity.” So, this upcoming year VCU SGA definitely needs to rebrand itself. We need to go out into the VCU community and announce our presence and explain how SGA is a valuable resource for students to actually utilize. The next one is “Investigate.” We need to receive student input. Next year, we will have sixty senators, thirty for each senate, which includes both respective campuses, who will work to learn what the students are truly worried about and how we can alleviate their concerns. The third I is “Impact.” Establishing a relationship with administration is very crucial for VCU SGA to get things done. These connections really will allow SGA to improve the campus and with the support of these influential people, we can really be impactful. And the last I is “Inform.” Informing the student body on completed tasks and goals is very important. We truly want to ensure that the student body is receiving as much information as possible from us, because transparency is key and I believe this initiative will definitely help with that.
Donovan: With all of these changes coming up in the next year, we, as the student body, have a lot to look forward to. The current members of both campuses’ SGAs will be putting their finishing touches on the year while assisting the newest members of the combined VCU SGA as the transition occurs.
Donovan: For more information, visit This has been CommonSpeak at VCU by University Student Commons and Activities. Thank you for listening.


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